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GP Week : Issue 193
The jury might still be out on Valtteri Bottas, but while he hasn’t been able to repeat his scintillating P3 qualifying performance in Canada, the devil in the data suggests that the rookie Finn is improving incrementally with every grand prix. When you throw a rookie into Formula One, the worst possible scenario for that driver is to jump into a car with an unstable baseline. You only have to remember Heikki Kovalainen’s first season at Renault to realise how debilitating that can be. Williams have made no excuses – their 2013 machine suffers from a similar rudimentary issue, but Valtteri seems to be rising to the challenge. Bottas has now out-qualified his more experienced teammate Pastor Maldonado in ten grands prix this year and that underlying speed suggests that when Williams resolves their problems, Bottas’ own confidence will improve exponentially. Making the cut into Q2 on a track that was improving minute by minute was a sure sign of driver and team beginning to work in harmony with one another, especially when you consider some of the drivers caught out in the changing conditions. Timing is everything, and it is one area where Bottas and his team appear to be in sync. On Sunday in India, a strong opening stint from Bottas was masked slightly by his fast-starting teammate, who jumped five positions on the opening lap. Both Williams drivers were able to run slightly longer on the medium compound than their immediate competitors, and Bottas in particular looked to be in a strong position to make up places. But a pit to car radio glitch scuppered the young Finn’s strategy and he was forced to run longer than expected, resulting in a net loss in overall race time. Despite the technical error, Bottas was keen to accentuate the positives. “The first lap was very slippery for me and I was sliding a lot more than other cars and lost some positions, but my pace in the first stint was getting better and I was getting more and more grip from the tyres,” explained Bottas after the race. “However, I had a radio failure which meant my first pit stop was later than planned and I lost track position. “Our race pace was stronger than in the last few races and I felt that I was on the right strategy, but the lack of running in free air meant that I wasn’t able to capitalize on this and challenge for points.” Ride of the Valtteri 32 GPWEEK.com // 32 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> INDIA